The University of Kansas Health System

Spring training is no spring break for Royals medical team


When it comes to the Kansas City Royals, Nick Kenney and Vince Key, MD, have a lot to talk about.

Kenney is the Royals Head Athletic Trainer and Dr. Key, an orthopedic surgeon with The Sports Medicine and Performance Center at The University of Kansas Health System, is the Royals Medical Director and Head Team Physician. The duo share a love for the game and a laser-like focus on Royals player health and injury prevention.

“I talk to Nick probably as much or more than I do my wife,” said Dr. Key, adding that Kenney could probably say the same thing.

For three weeks in February and March, Dr. Key and Kenney have offices side by side at the Royals spring training facility in Surprise, Arizona. But it isn't a spring break vacation.

Kenney and Dr. Key are busy with player evaluations, physicals and all the aches and pains associated with jump-starting a professional athlete’s training regimen. 

“There’s a lot of work,” said Dr. Key, who is the go-to expert for knee and shoulder conditions. “I’ve got 250 baseball players I’m dealing with during spring training.”

Dr. Key said having all medical stakeholders – trainers, a radiologist and strength coach – together during spring training is a bonus. It helps keep the team healthy and on schedule for their return to Kansas City and the start of the regular season.

If any players are injured at home, they don’t have far to go for expert medical care. The Sports Medicine and Performance Center at The University of Kansas Health System Training Complex is within walking distance of Kauffman Stadium. There, specialists in sports medicine and orthopedic surgery provide the latest in injury evaluation and treatment.

“Having the Sports Medicine and Performance Center on site allows us to have the MRI scanner right there,” he said. "We can take him over to the clinic to receive his scan. It’s more convenient for everyone.”